The northern and central mountainous areas of Vietnam are the main residing areas of 53 ethnic minority groups, with 13 million people (15% of the country’s population). Ethnic minority girls, boys, young women, and men have limited knowledge about their rights and are at risk of human trafficking and child marriage due to poverty, harmful social norms, gender stereotypes and lack of access to reliable information regarding their rights and available services.
The main objective of the EU funded EMPoWR project is to inform ethnic minority girls, boys, and young people (aged 10 to 24 years) about their rights, to access support services, and raise their voice towards policy makers. To do this, the project is split into 3 interlinked strands:
- Empowering ethnic minority girls, boys, and young women and men by increasing their knowledge and understanding of human trafficking and child marriage, and supporting them to advocate for their rights and protect themselves from these harmful practices.
- Improving online capacity of CSOs and media to support ethnic minority girls, boys, and young people to influence the local government to take action to end human trafficking and child marriage.
- Encouraging government agencies to implement and enforce policies preventing human trafficking and child marriage among ethnic minority communities.
A key element of EMPoWER is the Girls’ Rights Platform (GRP) and 6 social media channels, locally called Em Vui. The Em Vui Platform is a digital space for ethnic minority girls, boys and young women and men to access support services, understand and claim their rights, raise their voice towards policy makers and protect themselves from human trafficking and child marriage.
The Em Vui Platform is a child-friendly tool, which contains a wealth of information sources for ethnic minority children, adolescents, and youth (CAY) to learn and share knowledge. Moreover, it provides an open digital space for interconnection and collective action among individuals, CSOs, media agencies, mass organisations and government agencies to support the rights claimed by CAY nationwide. The Em Vui platform has also created space for youth and policymakers to interact through online policy dialogues.
The platform is specifically designed to be ‘data light’ meaning that it can be accessed in remote areas where internet connectivity is not strong.
A key focus of the project is improving levels of digital literacy and online safety skills through a specially developed training package as well as the creation of educational videos which can be shared online and through face- to-face trainings.
For those who do not have access to the internet or a smartphone, outdoor billboards were set up with key information on online safety, child, early and forced marriage, human trafficking and other relevant topics.
With partner organisations, the EMPoWR Project regularly engaged with young people to identify content that was most useful or interesting to them. Feedback was used to refine the platform to make it more useful and user-friendly.
The online platform including a website, an application and six social media channels was largely used by local organisations and local authorities as inputs for their communication and mainstreamed in other regular communication activities, such as regular extracurricular activities at school or face-to-face meetings in rural areas.
Activities at national level
Engaging media agencies at both provincial and national level, including digital media, to increase awareness of human trafficking and child marriage among their audiences.
By raising awareness, they can also educate the wider community about how to prevent these practices.
Produce documentary series on human trafficking, child marriage, and the rights of girls and ethnic minorities, that were broadcasted on various media platforms.
The EMPoWR project also raised awareness among government stakeholders on human trafficking and child marriage, particularly of child minorities. This was done through workshops for national level government agencies, introducing government representatives to the GRP so they can use it as a resource, and undertaking regular meetings with key government stakeholders.
The project, lead by Plan Vietnam, was implemented in partnership with a range of stakeholders, in particular the Institute for Social Development Studies (ISDS), a Vietnamese non-profit, non-governmental development organisation. In addition, partnerships and networking with local development organisations is essential to ensure online safeguarding.
- The interventions reached 40,779 ethnic minority girls, boys and young women and men aged 10 – 24 years within 52 communes in 11 districts of 4 provinces.
- The project mobilised 20 CSOs, and 76 media agencies amplifying the discussion around prevention and protection against human trafficking and early child marriage. EMPoWER raised awareness and knowledge for national and local authorities about these issues via the Em Vui platform.
- The project delivered face-to-face internet literacy and online safety training to 6,644 girls and boys aged 10-18 years, and sensitized 7,108 others online via the Em Vui platform.
- Together with other Plan Vietnam projects, EMPoWR supported 2,532 ethnic minority girls, boys and young women and men to participate in offline, face-to-face dialogues with decision-makers on human trafficking and child marriage.